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Popcorn Frights Film Festival: Second Wave of Films Weds a Bride and Sics the Jackals

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A couple of weeks ago, we posted the first wave of films that will be playing at Miami’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival, which included titles such as Another Wolfcop, Mayhem, and Game of Death. Now it’s time to reveal their second wave of films!

The festival will be offering the North American premiere of the Russian horror film The Bride, the US premiere of the Canadian zombie flick Dead Shack, the North American premiere of Halloween) producer Malek Akkad’s The Hatred, and more! You can see the full list below.

The festival runs August 11 through 17, 2017, at Miami’s landmark O Cinema Wynwood theater. Tickets are already available right here.

FEATURE FILMS

68 KILL
Directed by Trent Haaga
US | 93 minutes | 2017
This Southern-fried caper focuses on infatuated nice guy Chip and his crazy girlfriend, Liza, whose relationship takes a sharp turn into homicide when they try to rob Liza’s sugar daddy – only to end up with two corpses, a hostage, and $68,000 in stolen cash.

DEAD SHACK
Directed by Peter Ricq
Canada | 85 minutes | 2017
Three kids on a weekend getaway are holed up at a run-down cottage in the woods and must save their hard-partying parents from a shotgun-toting psycho (Lauren Holly), who wants to feed them to her slavering zombies.

THE BRIDE
Directed by Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy
Russia | 93 minutes | 2017
Russian with English subtitles
A young woman travels with her soon-to-be husband to his family home in the outskirts and becomes increasingly suspicious of their strange behavior. Sheer psychological terror soon overwhelms her as she starts witnessing terrifying visions when his family prepares her for a mysterious ritual ceremony.

THE ENDLESS
Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
US | 111 minutes | 2017
A mind-bending delight from the directors of Spring, The Endless follows two brothers who return to the death cult from which they fled a decade ago and discover that there might be some truth to the group’s otherworldly beliefs.

HAPPY HUNTING
Directed Joe Dietsch & Louie Gibson
US | 91 minutes | 2017
A gory thrill ride about an alcoholic drifter who gets stranded in a one-horse town deep in the American desert. It turns out that the town’s psychotic rednecks celebrate a gory pastime rounding up drifters and hunting them for sport.

THE HATRED
Directed by Michael G. Kehoe
US | 90 minutes | 2017
From the producer of Halloween comes the terrifying new feature centering on four young women who travel to their college professor’s new country home for a weekend getaway, only to discover that the house has a malevolent past. Featuring Andrew Divoff (Wes Craven’s Wishmaster), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), and Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

JACKALS
Directed by Kevin Greutert
US | 90 minutes | 2017
A potent ’80s-set psychological thriller that centers on an estranged family who hire a cult de-programmer (Stephen Dorff) to get back their teenage son from a murderous cult, only to find themselves under siege when the cultists surround their cabin, demanding the boy back.

LAKE BODOM
Directed by Taneli Mustonen
Finland | 85 minutes | 2017
Finnish with English subtitles
A smart, slick, savage slasher that riffs on a notorious real-life Finnish murder still unsolved. More than 50 years later, four teens get some gruesome surprises when they camp out at the site of the grisly massacre.

SEQUENCE BREAK
Directed by Graham Skipper
US | 80 minutes | 2017
A loner video arcade technician experiences bizarre bio-mechanical mutations and Cronenbergian hallucinations when a mysterious new arcade game appears in his shop. Reality itself threatens to fracture as he works to solve its mystery and the new chaos that has entered his life.

SUPER DARK TIMES
Directed by Kevin Phillips
US | 100 minutes | 2017
An incinerating and strangely dream-like teenage nightmare set in the leafy American suburbs of the early 1990s when a group of best friends get caught up in an abrupt and violent accident that results in a gruesome death.

TERRIFIER
Directed by Damien Leone
US | 82 minutes | 2017
It’s Halloween night and Art the Clown, the cold-blooded killer who also stalked the omnibus All Hallow’s Eve, is not wearing a creepy costume just for show. He terrorizes three young women and everyone else who stands in his way in this gritty and jarringly depraved new cut.

SHORT FILMS

2AM
Directed by Huseyin Hassan
Australia | 16 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A man awakens in an unusual asylum when supernatural events begin to unfold right in front of OUR eyes.

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
Directed by Katrina Rennells & Wendie Weldon
US | 8 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. Moments after a bloodcurdling scream disrupts a normally peaceful neighborhood, a frantic knocking at one resident’s door triggers events that unknowingly alter his fate forever.

BORN AGAIN
Directed by Jason Tostevin
US | 7 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. When a group of bumbling Satanists has their summoning ceremony go terribly right, they’re left to face the decidedly holy shit consequences.

THE CLEANSING HOUR
Directed by Damien LeVeck
US | 19 minutes | 2016
SOUTH FLORIDA PREMIERE. Two failed filmmakers get in over their heads when their latest staged hoax, an elaborate exorcism, turns out to actually be demon-possessed.

COUPLE’S NIGHT
Directed by The Summers Brothers
US | 4 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A couple’s night goes off the rails when one couple reveals they’re blood sacrificing devil worshippers. And then things get weird…

CURVE
Directed by Tim Egan
Australia | 10 minutes | 2016
SOUTH FLORIDA PREMIERE. Clinging to a smooth, curved surface high above an abyss, a girl tries to cover the few feet back to safety without falling to her death.

DIE! SITTER! DIE!
Directed by Lee & Sam Boxleitner
US | 25 minutes | 2016
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A young girl takes a job looking after an infant for the night. Little does she know her night is about to get more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

FIERCE
Directed by Izù Troin
Switzerland-France | 15 minutes | 2017
French with English subtitles
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. A young corporate executive is kidnapped from his apartment and wakes up in the middle of a forest only to be stalked by a mysterious hunter.

FUCKING BUNNIES
Directed by Teemu Niukkanen
Finland | 18 minutes | 2017
Finnish with English subtitles
FLORIDA PREMIERE. Raimo’s comfortable, middle-class bubble is burst when a Satan- worshipping sex cult moves in next door.

GREAT CHOICE
Directed by Robin Comisar
US | 7 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.

HELL FOLLOWS
Directed by Brian Harrison
US | 11 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. Betrayed by his clan and murdered for his past evil deeds, a sadistic killer’s soul possesses his identical twin’s body and sets out onto the road of vengeance for one final crusade of extermination. Everywhere he goes…HELL FOLLOWS.

IMEDIUM
Directed by Alfonso García López
Spain | 7 minutes | 2017
Spanish with English subtitles
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. A mourning mother has lost all hope of finding her missing daughter alive, so she decides to subscribe to an app that connects directly with dead people.

LEVEL
Directed by Andrew Hunt
US | 19 minutes | 2017
WORLD PREMIERE. Trapped inside a never-ending nightmare, a cat and mouse game plays out between a man and a hellish beast lurking in the shadows.

NECK AND NECK
Directed by Shaun Clark
UK | 5 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello, this animated short presents a dark surreal take on the relationship between the deceived Othello, the innocent Desdemona, and the mendacious Iago.

NIGHTMARE
Directed by James Mansell
UK | 3 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. Put on a headset and step inside a frighteningly immersive environment, where all is not as it seems.

OVERTIME
Directed by Craig D. Foster
Australia | 9 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. No one likes working late on a Friday night…especially if it’s a full moon and you happen to be a werewolf.

SAVOR
Directed by Marc Cartwright
US | 1 minute | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A man discovers the horrors of dinning alone.

THE THIN PLACE
Directed by Alexander Mattingly
US | 15 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A mother and daughter are haunted by a terrifying presence in this supernatural suspenser.

THE TICKLE MONSTER
Directed by Remi Weekes
UK | 4 minutes | 2017
FLORIDA PREMIERE. A quiet night in for an aspiring grime artist and his girlfriend takes a dark turn when she reveals her room is haunted by the tickle monster.

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Tony Timpone’s Elegy – AFM: A November to Dismember

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It used to be that the toughest thing about visiting the global cinematic bazaar known as the American Film Market was squeezing in as many movies as humanly possible before your eyes exploded like Cameron Vale’s in Scanners. At this year’s 38th annual AFM, held November 1-8 in Santa Monica, CA, I watched 17 movies in five days. Don’t be too impressed. That’s a big drop from past years, where I’d see as many as two dozen films during that span.

This year marked my 21st AFM jaunt, and change has been in the air for some time at this industry confab. Two screening days have been shaved off the program, and theater screenings have lost the 5pm and 7pm slots. Much of the Z-grade schlock has been whittled away and there does seem to be a higher level of product on display. No longer does every other movie star Joe Estevez. Now it’s Nicolas Cage! Sales companies feverishly hawked Cage’s VOD-bound Primal, The Humanity Bureau and Looking Glass, in addition to a plethora of cute puppy and sappy Christmas cable-ready movies.

So where’s the horror, you ask? You can still discover it at AFM, but 2017 offered a disappointing allowance for the most part. To put it into perspective, the opening day of my first AFM in 1998 yielded John Carpenter’s Vampires and Spain’s Abre Los Ojos (remade as the mediocre Vanilla Sky in the US) back-to-back (not to mention The Big Lebowski from the Coen brothers). For 2017, I did not see one film as good as those (well, maybe one…). Not a total washout, mind you, as I’m sure you will add a few titles to your watch list after perusing my AFM 2017 screening report.


I Kill Giants:
A lonely teenage girl (Madison Wolfe) defends her coastal town from invading goliaths in this somber tale directed by Denmark’s Anders Walter and written by Joe Kelly from his graphic novel. Not exactly a feel-good movie, I Kill Giants deals with bullying, depression, isolation and terminal illness. It intersperses the somberness with some excellent FX scenes involving the giants, who emerge from the surf and dark woods to taunt our young heroine. Not only is I Kill Giants too downbeat for my tastes, last year’s underrated and underseen A Monster Calls covered many of the same emotional beats much more eloquently and movingly than here.

** 1/2



Errementari:
Spanish helmer Alex del la Iglesia (Day of the Beast, Witching & Bitching) produced this Terry Gilliam-esque dark fantasy, about a cursed medieval-age blacksmith and his battle of wills with a demon out to claim his soul.

Directed by Paul Urkijo Alijo, the movie is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life. Its climactic trip to Hell stands out as a highlight, pitchforks and all, as do the superb practical makeup FX.

***


Bad Samaritan:
A parking valet (Robert Sheehan) at a ritzy restaurant borrows the patrons’ cars to rob their homes while they’re eating in this thriller directed by Dean (Godzilla) Devlin and written by Brandon (Apt Pupil) Boyce. As he rummages through the house of the arrogant Cale (former “Doctor Who” David Tennant, cast against type and looking like a less seedy Charlie Sheen), valet Sean discovers an imprisoned woman, the waiting victim of the rich serial killer. The cops don’t believe the robber, but the bad guy catches onto him and soon begins destroying Sean’s life and those around him. Though Bad Samaritan builds some good suspense and remains moderately gripping, Devlin (late of the embarrassing Geostorm, which Irishman Sheehan also appeared in) is no Hitchcock. And at 107 minutes, the movie overstays its welcome.

** 1/2


Anna and the Apocalypse:
Christmas, teenagers, music and zombies… Anna and the Apocalypse has it all. As the snow falls and Yuletide cheer builds, a living dead outbreak hits the quaint British town of Little Haven. Can teen Anna (Intruders’ Ella Hunt) and her friends make it to their high school auditorium for presumed safety? Well, they’ll try, singing and dancing (and bashing in undead heads) along the way. OK, so the movie’s cute and a raucous scene of zombie mayhem in a bowling alley scores a strike, but the problem with Anna is the songs just aren’t that memorable. Where’s Richard O’Brien when you need him?

** 1/2


Incident in a Ghost Land:
Writer/director Pascal Laugier took our breath away with his vicious Martyrs in 2008, but 2012’s underrated The Tall Man garnered little notice. Packing a ’70s horror vibe, his latest recaptures some of Martyrs’ uncomfortable female-inflicted brutality. Two young sisters and their mom head to a remote family house, which is soon invaded by two ruthless psychos. Though the story echoes Tourist Trap and High Tension, Laugier pulls the rug out from us at a key point and takes us down an even darker path. I wish the villains had a little more depth here, but In a Ghost Land has enough shock and thrills to satisfy fright fans.

***


Cold Skin

Cold Skin:
Laugier’s fellow extreme Frenchmen, Xavier Gens, terrorized us with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre pastiche Frontier(s) in 2007 and explored postapocalyptic horror in The Divide (2011). Now he tries his hand at a Jules Verne-style creature feature. In the early 20th century, a weather observer (David Oakes) arrives for a year-long assignment at an isolated island near the Antarctic Circle where he meets the misanthropic lighthouse keeper (Ray Stevenson). A race of pale-skinned fish people dwells in the seas and raids the island at night in several bravura action set pieces, their motive unknown. The real threat here may be Stevenson, who keeps one of the creatures as a pet/sex slave. Gens plays the story like a fable, but ultimately I had a hard time warming up to Cold Skin. Where the movie succeeds is in the creature FX and photography departments.

***


Let the Corpses Tan:
French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani won over the horror arthouse crowd with their giallo tributes Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. Their latest flashy exercise tackles the much-loved Italian Spaghetti Western genre, but relocates the story to modern day and a Mediterranean hilltop villa. A gold-robbing gang holes up in the scenic, sun-drenched location, with a woman artist and her friends get caught in the crossfire when two cops arrive. The filmmakers do a fine job of paying homage to Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone here, but we’re talking style over substance. None of the characters really pops, and the whole thing grows a little tiresome. Fans of Cattet and Forzani and arty shootouts will still dig it.

** 1/2


Downrange:
After the weekly US shooting sprees of Vegas and Texas, this was the last movie I wanted to embrace. A group of friends find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after a sniper cripples their car. Said sniper then begins blasting away at the college kids in graphic fashion, brains splattering the asphalt in gruesome close-up. Director Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Versus) does some flashy camera things, but the movie is so damn mean-spirited that it just left a bad taste in my mouth. The lowdown on Downrange: the story’s not very plausible nor the characters very likable.

* 1/2


Ghost Stories:
Just when I gave up on AFM 2017, the last movie screening I attended turned out to be not only the best genre film of the market but one of the best of the year period (IFC releases Ghost Stories next April). Supernatural debunker Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman, who co-wrote and co-directed with Jeremy Dyson) examines three extreme hauntings which just might make a believer out of him. Adapting their successful London play, Nyman and Dyson riff on past British horror anthologies Dead of Night and the ’70s Amicus flicks, but with a modern sensibility. Ghost Stories achieves its scares with class and distinction, as well as terrific makeup FX and a memorable supporting turn by The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman.

This one will send you out singing too; the “Monster Mash” plays over the end credits!

*** 1/2


So even though this year’s AFM was a bust, you will likely spot me canvassing those comfy Santa Monica theaters (kudos for solid projection, luxurious seating and friendly staff at the Arclight, AMC, Broadway and Laemmle) again next fall. On the market and festival beat, hope springs eternal!

For more information on the AFM, go to www.americanfilmmarket.com.

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Class of 1999 Graduates to Blu-Ray in 2018

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Coming to blu-ray in early 2018 will be Class of 1999, which was originally released in 1990 and designed to be an unofficial sci-fi sequel to 1982’s Class of 1984, which itself received a special edition blu-ray in 2015. Confused yet?

In 1982, writer-director Mark L. Lester made Class of 1984, a slightly futuristic action thriller about teachers contending with teenage gangs in an inner-city high school. Lester would go on to grace us with Commando and Firestarter before returning to the premise in 1990 to give us the very futuristic Class of 1999. This time the action takes place near the turn of the millennium when gang violence overruns inner-city high schools to the point that the government steps in and replaces the teachers with reprogrammed military-grade battle androids. The super soldier cyborg faculty revert to their militaristic ways, naturally, and rack up quite a body count as they declare war on the student body leading to teenage gangs putting aside their difference to lead an anti-robot uprising in the halls of the school.

The time is the future, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some schools have become “free fire zones” into which not even the police will venture. When Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell), the principal of Kennedy High School, decides to take his school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr. Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) provides “tactical education units.” These human-like androids have been programmed to teach and are supplied with weapons to handle discipline problems. These kids will get a lesson in staying alive!

Boasting a screenplay by Full Moon stalwart C. Courtney Joyner and a cast including the likes of Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, and Traci Lind; Class of 1999 and its unique Stand and Deliver meets The Warriors meets The Terminator premise has garnered a loyal cult following over the years. We won’t mention the sequel. Forget I even brought it up. Sequel? What sequel?

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced Class of 1999 will be the next title getting a blu-ray release as part of their Vestron Collector’s Series in the first semester of 2018 with a fully loaded edition guaranteed to please fans and those that have yet to be educated on this enjoyable early Ninties b-movie extravaganza.

Disc extras will include:

Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Mark L. Lester
Interviews with Director/Producer Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola
Interview with Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner
Interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Interview with Director of Photography Mark Irwin
Trailer & TV Spot
Still Gallery
Video Promo
Optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature

Class of 1999 graduates to blu-ray on January 30th.

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Buy Stuff From Eibon Press, Get More Stuff For Free

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Eibon Press have announced that they’re starting Black Friday a day early and will be running their specials for almost a week, through November 28th. This year, they’re doing something a little different, a little more interesting. Rather than reduce prices on their inventory, they’re doing a deal where depending on how much you buy from their store, you’ll get a certain amount of free swag in addition to your order.

The first tier sees anyone who makes a purchase getting two double-sided mini-posters featuring art from their upcoming Bottomfeeder and Maniac vs The New York Ripper series. The second tier sees anyone who spends at least $30 getting a free copy of their VHS Comics titles Laserblast plus the mini-posters. The final tier is for those who spend $50 and more and that will net the mini-posters, the #1 issue of Laserblast, and a free copy of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell #2.

Lastly, five random people will receive an extra bonus gift, which they won’t reveal but promise that, “…you’ll love it!

All order cans be placed via Eibon Press.

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